To own or apply knowledge

This is a LinkedIn favourite. Click-bait, guaranteed to provoke reaction. It is an ever-valid discussion to return to. In my consulting discussions the debate of demonstrating qualified staff or experience in role is equally divisive. But I have no doubt, experience counts.

PART 2 of this blog will perhaps revisit some past threads of discussion. For now however, I simply want to demonstrate what I think is really being asked. For me this is simply the difference between having and being.

I have blogged about having vs being before. Links will appear at the bottom of this post. Nothing here is new. Dave Snowden regularly speaks of people relying on form when it is process that counts. John Vervaeke runs regular YouTube dialogue presenting these differences as contributors to the meaning crisis.

From a knowledge perspective we can consider this as the difference between acquired and applied learning. In those terms it perhaps becomes self-evident what the difference between qualification and experience reflects. But I will elaborate for clarity.

This can be explained across the categories of visibility | behaviour | trust (v|b|t).

Qualifications v | b | t

visibility | b | t

High visibility. But only visibility of potential. Measurable as standardised evidence to demonstrate that a core knowledge has been achieved. Employers can advertise expectations in standardised language for all potential candidates to self-select against. It also presents benchmarks to aim toward. At the heart of the visibility is the question “is this particular example of human form able to contribute to our process?” In this regard the qualification presents an attribute – a speculative possibility.

v | behaviour | t

Them and us behaviour. This is having mode. Ownership. To have a degree certificate is to own a qualification. To be Associate or Fellow qualified in a professional capacity is to have achieved a demonstration of learning in your craft. This is to have. This is form. It is a material representation of attaining a learning from an institution. It is something that has been acquired. By the application of personal resources of time and money towards gaining something others have offered you as an exchange. The conclusion of which is a necessary demonstration that this acquisition has been successful. A confirmation is awarded based on a manner of pre-determined examination of your account or recall.

v | b | trust

Them and us, as credibility. Trust is inherently placed in the hands of a third-party. These are institutions of learning, academically or otherwise accredited. It thereby increases distance between candidate and employer; prospective service provider and customer. At scale this is organisational accreditation or licence to operate. But such certifications are also an enabler of the defensive decision-maker. Lowering the necessary skill-base of the assessor; reducing decision parameters; optimising short-lists. This trust is assumed. It is therefore fragile, rigid to the framework it reflects, standardised, and potentially subject to abuse.

Experience v | b | t

visibility | b | t

High visibility. Measurable in years, or reputation, or demonstrable by tangible success. Success measurable by metrics of application not acquisition.

v | behaviour | t

Applied know-how is able to be demonstrated. Learning whilst doing and understanding of contextual application in action and deeds. Contextually relevant is therefore more detailed in explanation and demonstration. It can command more respect simply because it is the being part of the process, not simply representing the potential to be.

v | b | trust

A closer approximation of fit to role is possible. It requires a greater ability to share a trust. A trust can be built based upon shared understanding of process. Abstraction by both parties (e.g. employer and employee) who can better empathise with the other, having better modelling in mind of what the process they share as intentions, requires of the other.

A practical example of having or owning knowledge vs applying it

I conclude with a further example of the limited visibility that owned knowledge represents. This is day 643 of lockdown in Casa Beardall. Undoubtedly now my most intense era of knowledge acquisition. One MSc completed, and another underway. Owned knowledge by qualification. But my owned knowledge is accumulating by another metric – by the volume of literature I have acquired. This last 12 months, the calendar year of 2021, I have spent over £1,000 on books. I have accounted for them all. They are listed in the table below. I can claim to have read them all. I do claim to have read most. But all you can seek as validation is visibility e.g., evidence that I physically own them.

Some of these books have been heavy reading. Some almost impenetrable (Kant or more recently Heidegger). Some of the books are just a guide to others. The point is who is to know if I have read them, let alone understood them. But even if I sit an exam to demonstrate an understanding of them, it has no reflection on whether I can apply them to anything meaningful to you or anything worldly at all.

A book seems to me the perfect metaphor as a simplification of this debate. Anyone can own a book. Have this knowledge to hand. It is a literal form of knowledge. But to apply knowledge is to not have it to hand. It is to have it abstractly available in mind. And thereby find means to apply it to something new.

In the zoom age these displays are everywhere. Bookshelves strategically located behind camera shots. Mine included. The academic class more guilty than most. Other than perhaps politicians.

We can display all, but in the end it is application that counts. And experience is the easiest representation of that.

I will conclude the crassness with the following table. Hubris on show.

Having or Being | Form or Process | Acquired or Applied?

A list of books purchased in 2021. A gratuitous display. That demonstrates more of my commitment to charities vs publishers, than it does to how the content may be applied.

£803.70Subtotal from Oxfam 
£36.84The goalamazon
£29.99Historical Sociology and World Historyo51****
£27.07What is ancient philosophy?amazon
£24.99Language and Social Relationso50****
£21.95Fool’s Goldamazon
£21.38Becoming humanamazon
£20.00Jungian psychoanalysis: Working in the Spirit of Carl Jungo38****
£20.00Conjectures and Refutations by Karl Poppero51****
£20.00William James and the transatlantic conversationo44****
£19.99Social Psychology — 8th Editiono65****
£19.99Psychology and Alchemyo38****
£19.99History of Western Philosophy – Bertrand Russello51****
£19.99what causes human behaviour – stars, selves or contingencies?o61****
£19.33Essays of Francis Baconamazon
£16.48Karl Jaspers : The origin and goal of historyamazon
£15.99Kants Critique of Practical Reasono46****
£15.00Representing and Interveningo51****
£15.00Short History Of The Communist Party Of The Soviet Uniono44****
£15.00ETHIC of Benedict de Spinoza: Demonstrated in Geometrical Ordero44****
£14.99Principles of Brain Dynamics Global State Interactionso38****
£14.99Summa Theologica – Volume 17: Psychology of Human Actso33****
£14.99Existentialism and Humanismo33****
£14.99Leibniz: Nature and Freedomo51****
£14.99The Psychology of Politicso61****
£14.99The human use of human beingso61****
£14.99The Philosophy of David Humeo45****
£14.99The Freud Jung Letterso50****
£14.99Kant’s Critique of pure reason; translated by Norman Kemp Smitho45****
£14.99Will Hutton – Them and Us – Signed First Editiono44****
£14.99Newman on the Psychology of Faith in the Individual [1928]o44****
£14.99An Introduction to Cognitive Behaviour Therapy: Second Editiono44****
£14.99Joseph Campell’s selected letters 1927-1987amazon
£14.50Josepeh Campbell’s hero with a thousand facesamazon
£14.02Joseph Campbell’s pathways to blissamazon
£13.99Being and timeo44****
£13.66Your Leadership Legacy : becoming the leader you were meant to beamazon
£13.62Tales from two sides of the brainamazon
£12.99Megaprojects and Risk: An Anatomy of Ambitiono46****
£12.991177 BCE : the year civisation collapsedamazon
£12.95Explaining the Braino44****
£12.15Bandit Capitalism : Carillionamazon
£12.00Complex/Archetype/Symbol in the Psychology of C.G. Jungo33****
£11.99Imitatio Christio46****
£11.98The goal of philosophyamazon
£11.63The conciousness instinctamazon
£10.99Freedom and beliefo38****
£10.99The Essential James Hillman: A blue fireo44****
£10.00The Problems of Philosophyo33****
£10.00The Self and Its Brain: An Argument for Interactionismo51****
£10.00Statistics for psychologyo44****
£10.00Vygotsky’s Psychologyo44****
£9.99Analyzing Social Science Datao65****
£9.99Ego & Archetypeo38****
£9.99Coleridge’s Works – Aids to Reflection – published in 1890o51****
£8.99Buddhismwithout belief : a contemporary guide to awakeningamazon
£8.96Applying AI to Project Managementamazon
£8.75How the Project Management Office can use AI to imporve the bottom lineamazon
£8.44Gods in Everyman : a new psychology of man’s lives and lovesamazon
£8.15Risk Savvyamazon
£8.00The structure of scientific revolutionso46****
£8.00Routledge philosophy guidebook to Kant and the Critique of pure reasono44****
£7.99The Story of Civilization. Rousseau and Revolution 10. The Protestant Northo46****
£7.99Chomsky’s Reflection on Languageo46****
£7.99The Conscious Mind In Search of a Fundamental Theoryo38****
£7.99The Poetical Works of Shelleyo45****
£7.99The desert fathers :sayings of the early christian monksamazon
£7.78Who’s in Charge?amazon
£7.50Mind and cosmoso51****
£7.49The Vision of Judgment and Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage Cantos III & IVo51****
£7.49Existential Analysis 11.2,12.1 & 13.1o50****
£7.19The Human Side of Managing Technological Innovationo46****
£7.00Time – Rhythm and Reposeo38****
£7.00The House at Pooh Cornero33****
£7.00Radical prioritieso44****
£7.00Mapping The Mindo44****
£6.99Foundations of Euclidean and Non-Euclidean Geometryo46****
£6.99The Neurotic Personality of Our Timeo46****
£6.99An Essay concerning Human Understandingo45****
£6.99Early Christian writing : the apostellic fathersamazon
£6.71Will Durant’s The Story of Philosophyamazon
£5.99The Shakespeare Classics: The Taming Of A Shrewo33****
£5.99Critique of the Power of Judgment (2008)o51****
£5.97Critical chainamazon
£5.00Mapping the Mindo51****
£4.99Social Psychology: A Study of Human Interaction (1965)o65****
£4.99Two treatises of governmento46****
£4.99Rousseau’s Political Writingso45****
£4.99An enquiry concerning human understandingo45****
£4.99Freedom Evolves, Daniel C. Dennett, Penguin Paperbacko44****
£4.99Workplace counsellingo44****
£4.84Plato : The Republicamazon
£3.99Understanding the Self-Ego Relationship in Clinical Practiceo51****
£3.99Mind Watching: Why We Behave the Way We Doo61****
£3.99The Language Instinct: The New Science of Language and the Mindo45****
£3.99The village effecto44****
£3.00Oscar Wildeo45****
£2.99Real Confidenceo44****
£2.99The emerald tablet of Hermesamazon
£2.49The Science of Passionate Interests: … Tarde’s Economic Anthropologyo51****
£2.49The measure of all thingso51****

About Me

In psychology we are required to look beneath the mask. This blog series is attempting to unmask some hidden parts of projects to engender a more collaborative way.

Find my professional mask here: